Cloud Hosting Explained

To those who are not internet experts, terms like Cloud Hosting can be confusing, conjuring up images of little computers floating through the air. Also known as cluster or enterprise hosting, “cloud hosting” is a type of web hosting service offered by a network or group of servers, known as a “cloud." These servers are connected to each other and work together, but are not usually in the same data center or building, and may be in data centers almost anywhere in the world.

Many people are familiar with cloud hosting already without knowing it. If you have a web-based email account such as Yahoo! or Hotmail, then you have experienced cloud email hosting. Your emails exist in cyberspace but do not exist on your computer (unless you download them), and are stored on another computer (a server), which could be anywhere. Cloud hosting follows the same principle, but in this case your entire website is “in the cloud.”

Cloud servers, like virtual private servers (VPS) and dedicated servers are usually fully customizable and give you root access, and you will usually be able to choose the operating system and be able to run the software of your choice. Each cloud hosting provider is different, but the price will often depend on the size of the server you order and the amount of bandwidth you use.

Advantages of cloud hosting

A major advantage of cloud hosting is the speed of setup, since a cloud server can usually be deployed in only a few minutes, and you can quickly and easily resize or set up multiple cloud servers. Cloud hosting allows you to easily and quickly scale up your web space without the need to purchase new hardware, and since you usually only pay for what you use it can be quite economical if you do not need a fully dedicated server.
Cloud hosting also offers reliability and security since you are not relying on a single dedicated server, and so if one server goes down there are many others available to take over.

Cloud hosting is also ideal for developers who may only need a server for a few days, since pricing is usually flexible enough to allow this, rather than tying you into a monthly rental. Most cloud hosting is pay-as-you-go, and you may be billed hourly for your cloud hosting plan.

Another advantage is that many dedicated servers involve contracts and set up fees but cloud servers usually involve neither.

Disadvantages of cloud hosting

If you have a very small website, cloud hosting is probably not going to be the most economical solution, and shared hosting may be a better option for you. Many of the cloud hosting services do not offer Web support beyond restarting your virtual machine, unless you are willing to pay an extra fee or sign up for a support plan. This means that if you do not know how to run a server it may not be a good solution for you. Also, storage space is almost always linked to how much memory you use. If the product or service you provide will require a lot of storage space, cloud hosting may not be the best or most economical option for you.

There are benefits and drawbacks with all types of hosting. When deciding what type of hosting option you will need, be sure to take the time to map out what you think your business will require and then research the available options before you sign on the dotted line.